January 14, 2011
Even legislators who arrive in Austin with the best of intentions come to accept the confusing and secretive way the state’s two-year budget is put together.
“We’ve always done it thataway” is no way to run either a business a government. We are impressed with the proposal by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, to open up the process and will be reminding legislators from time to time about the virtues of transparency.
Watson seeks to require that a final version of the budget be made available for public inspection and review no less than five days before a vote is taken.
What’s happened in the past is the House passes one version, the Senate passes another, and compromises and horse trading take place in conference committee, and voting on the resulting cut-and-paste budget is often hurried — not a good way to do things even in the best of times.
With a gap between expected income and expected expenses projected to be about $24 billion, legislators no longer can cross their fingers and hope for the best. Voting for a budget with everyone’s eyes wide open would be a long overdue improvement.